In the post immediately below this one, I argue that President Obama now “owns” Iraq because his unwillingness seriously to negotiate a status of forces agreement led directly to Iraq’s current chaos. Obama, of course, doesn’t see it this way, but he is belatedly looking for ways to prevent the complete disintegration of Iraq.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, Obama’s plan is “to open direct talks with Iran on how the two longtime foes can counter the insurgents.”
The bad news trumps the good news. There is no reason to believe that America needs to work with Iran in order to help the Iraqi government take on the Islamist insurgents. Moreover, working with Iran would be self-defeating even if Iran were not our enemy. Our political goal should be a more inclusive, less sectarian Iraqi government that does not depend on Iran. Iran’s political goal is a dependent government that is even more dominated by Shiite interests.
So why does Obama want to work with Iran? Because he regards doing so as a good thing in itself. The Wall Street Journal hints at this motive:
The U.S.-Iran dialogue, which is expected to begin this week, will mark the latest in a rapid move toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran over the past year. It also comes as the U.S. and other world powers try to reach an agreement with Iran by late July to curb its nuclear program.
It’s another example of Rahm Emmanuel’s admonition never to let a crisis go to waste. Iraq’s existential crisis is Obama’s opportunity to cozy up to the anti-American, Israel-hating theocrats in Tehran.
It’s also, of course, an opportunity for those very theocrats. If all goes according to plan, they can improve their negotiating position regarding their nuclear program through some small, probably token, measure of cooperation in Iraq.
The Iranian regime wins thrice. It increases its influence Iraq; it furthers its nuclear ambitions; and, with any hope that America supports regime change extinguished and with sanctions on their way out, it entrenches its hold on power.
Obama wins in his mind by drawing the U.S. closer to its worst nation-state enemy.
Iraq loses for the reasons stated above. And, of course, Israel loses because Iran’s path to nuclear weapons is further cleared.
American loses because it helps a bitter enemy and hurts a staunch friend.